This release from Italy's Tactus label is perhaps even more specialized than the common run of Tactus releases, covering an 18th century instrument called the English guitar that had only a tiny repertoire, a good part of which is recorded here. The English guitar had 10 strings in six courses, tuned in an open C major. The only major (or at least moderately major) composer who wrote for it was Francesco Geminiani, who, like Paganini, was known as a guitarist as well as for his violin skills. His sonatas consist of from two to five movements, most of them little more than a minute in length and devoted to the solution of some technical problem. You hear a lot of C major, and the minimal contrast between the guitar and the harpsichord continuo also contributes to the lack of differentiation; one wonders whether a different kind of continuo group might have been used. The two-movement Classical-era sonatas of the little-known Tommaso Giordani ought to stir up the attention of guitar enthusiasts; however, what has by now become a Classical accompanimental group has a mostly rhythmic function, and the long slow movements effectively blend sparkling guitar runs into a larger structure. The relaxed fluency of guitarist Giampaolo Bandini is another plus throughout, and sound is above average for Tactus releases. Recommended for serious guitar fans.
Francesco Geminiani, Tomasso Giordani: Sonate per chitarra e basso continuo Review
by James Manheim